Sorare World Cup Special - Part 1
Updated: Jul 20
As you undoubtedly already know, this World Cup will be an atypical one. First of all, it'll be played in the winter, meaning it will cause major disruptions to the domestic league competitions. The Premier League will take a break after the weekend of November 12/13 and will resume fixtures again on Boxing Day, the 26th of December.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup, will be the first one ever to be held in the Middle East.
It will also become the most controversial World Cup ever, with questions about the way the rich Gulf state won the right to hold it (fraud & bribes), how it has been treating workers building the stadiums (new world slavery) and whether it will be welcoming to LGBTQIA+ fans. By the way, if they keep adding letters, we'll have a full alphabet in a few months. It’s also going to be a strange one for us, the fans, who are so used to cheering their teams on during the summer months on squares/gardens and parks all around the country. We'll be cheering in pubs, living rooms, or inside big screen locations.
When does the World Cup start?
It is just under 100 days before the World Cup in Qatar will start. The exact starting date very recently changed so Qatar could play the opening game. The date has changed because the emir of Qatar wants to play the opening game and they want to play in the evening so they can have big fireworks... Chaos ensues as thousands of fans needed to rebook their flight and their already overbooked hotels.
Qatar will also start with 14 players on the field instead of the normal 11... that's sarcasm.
An ideal time to start forming an SO5 team to beat the inflated prices before the World Cup gets hyped in the media. What tactic to use for assembling a squad is totally up to you. But beware, if you are unlucky, your player could only play three group matches and go back home which might not be worth the investment. In my opinion, a stack would be the way to go, and hope they don't get eliminated fast. If you are still in the market for a goalkeeper, we did the research so you don't have to, let this summary help you.
Let us first start with teams that are not present: Failed to qualify: Italy, Nigeria, Chile, Egypt, Iceland, Sweden, Austria, ...
This means we won't be seeing the following players: Donnarumma (PSG), Jorginho (Chelsea), Golovin (Monaco), Zlatan (AC Milan), Haaland (Man City), Chukwueze (Villareal), Alaba (Real Madrid), Mo Salah (Liverpool), Barella (Inter), Oblak (Atletico), Robin Olsen (Aston Villa), and all the 'sons from Iceland.
The Group stage:
Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, The Netherlands.
Qatar's football strategy is fairly simple, "naturalize as many Brazilians as we can". A joke, of course,... they naturalize just about anyone.
The reigning Asian champions are the only team making its debut on the world stage of football. With ex-Barcelona youth coach Felix Sanchez, Qatar has developed an attack-minded playing style. If they don't change the rules again, Qatar won't survive the group stage. Their keeper Saad Al Sheeb (Al Sadd) does not have a minted card. I do however value the home advantage in this kind of competition so Qatar might surprise us after all.
The Netherlands is back on its way to glory with a new generation of (Ajax) talents. Yet there is a goalkeeper situation brewing. Will Louis van Gaal choose Cillessen (NEC) or Flekken (Freiburg). Cilissen recently transferred to NEC with the World Cup in his mind. He seems the first pick, but who knows what going on in Van Gaal's head? Remember the Cillessen and Tim Krul (Norwich) substitution a few years back for the penalty shootout?
Although Ecuador has some interesting players like Enner Valencia (Fenerbahçe) and Estupinan (Villareal), they won't survive the group stage. Their goalkeeper and captain Alexander Domínguez (LDU Quito) has no cards minted.
Senegal is the runner-up in last year's Africa Cup, they lost against Egypt and have world-class players on every line of the field. Koulibaly (Chelsea), Diallo (PSG), Gueye (PSG) and Mané (Bayern Munchen) to name a few. Edouard Mendy (Chelsea) is the first goalkeeper for Senegal and with Gomis (Rennes) they have a very decent backup.
David: 1. Senegal, 2. The Netherlands, 3. Ecuador, 4. Qatar.
Tom: 1. The Netherlands, 2. Senegal, 3. Ecuador, 4. Qatar.
Group B: England, Iran, USA, Wales.
The group of death. Not only because of the political animosity.
After beating Ukraine in the play-off semi-final, Wales qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1958. Wayne Hennessey (Nottingham Forrest) is still the first choice of goalkeeper. The backup goalkeeper is Danny Ward (Leicester). The second spot in the group might go either way, but if Bale shows up, they'll be a real contender.
The first spot is for England, although this is a treacherous group. England just has an overload of quality in the team, and some very exciting players like the 19-year-old Jude Bellingham (Dortmund), to not secure the first spot. I've never been a huge fan of Jordan Pickford (Everton), their first goalkeeper. He played at a high level for a long time. I guess, he doesn't quite get the credit that he deserves. Pickford doesn't have any cards minted. Although there are some rumors that Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal) might be getting his shot. England will be determined to do better in Qatar and finally win their first major trophy since 1966. Football might be coming home.
The USA barely made the tournament on goal difference. The United States has enough young talent to have a chance at getting out of the group and should excite supporters on the way. If they don't survive, they'll have at least got a huge amount of experience they can use in 4 years, when we'll all be playing "soccer" in the World Cup 2026 in the USA, Canada and Mexico. We've seen an influx of American players in Europe. Pulisic (Chelsea), Reyna (Dortmund) and Dest (Barcelona). Their goalkeeper situation is interesting to follow as they are playing with different goalkeepers in their last games. Horvath (Luton Town), Matt Turner (Arsenal), and Zach Steffen (Middlesbrough) will be battling it out for the nr1. Although most pundits seem to point to Steffen getting his chance. They do however not have an excellent striker on their team, which will hurt them in the long run.
Iran is a lowkey good team. With some lesser known but very capable players, like striker Taremi (Porto) or Jahanbakhsh (Feyenoord). Their first keeper Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), ex-Antwerp, has no cards minted. They'll have to be on their best to fight the US and/or Wales for the second spot. Especially with the recent problems their team is having, conflict in the dressing room, issues with the FA and the coaching staff, and their friendlies being canceled, ...
David: 1. England, 2. Wales, 3. USA, 4. Iran
Tom: 1. England, 2. USA, 3. Iran, 4. Wales
Also, don't forget our other Sorare blog posts in this World Cup series:
Part 2: The rundown of groups C & D
Part 3: Groups E & F
Part 4: Groups G & H
Part 5: The Conclusion